Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle
Two guys get high and must feast in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, the only film of recent memory to feature a main character who marries a large bag of weed. When Harold (John Cho), an investment banker, gets saddled with his coworker’s assignment for the weekend, it looks like the scheduled pot-smoking Friday night with his roommate Kumar (Kal Penn) has to be cancelled. Kumar will have nothing of this and proceeds to get his friend very high and very hungry. When a tantalizing commercial for White Castle hits their TV screen with impeccable timing, the quest begins.
Unfortunately, the White Castle nearby has turned into a Burger Shack, and the next closest location is some 45 minutes away. The two make a solemn oath that their evening will not end until White Castle burgers have made it into their stomachs. This proves to be a tougher task than first thought since a gang of extreme hoodlums, who suck down Mountain Dews and kayak inside convenience stores, will hound them all night. Harold and Kumar will also have frightening encounters with a cheetah, a boil-covered tow-truck driver, racist police, a bloodthirsty raccoon and Doogie Howser‘s Neil Patrick Harris.
This film doesn’t just work; it hums on all eight cylinders. Cho and Penn are a great comic team, and of the many jokes and gags attempted during its running time, I’d have to give the film a solid 85 percent laugh success rate. That’s because the stars and director fully embrace the opportunity to let anything fly, and they have the know-how to pull it off. This is the only movie you will ever see where the two protagonists get a cheetah high and ride it through the woods of New Jersey.
The film rides up in the face of many lame racial and character stereotypes and smacks them around for its duration. For that matter, its central characters aren’t your typical stoners but two relatively intelligent guys who really like marijuana—not the usual stoner stereotype like Tommy Chong.
A cute side story has Harold trying to introduce himself to the beautiful girl he rides the elevator with at his apartment complex. Kumar has a love interest too, but his is herb. David Krumholtz and Eddie Kaye Thomas score big laughs as Goldstein and Rosenberg, two fellow stoners who can’t immediately join the quest for food because they are too busy trying to spot Katie Holmes’ topless scene in The Gift. They will take solace in the more easily accessible Hot Dog Heaven.
Props to Neil Patrick Harris for humping a car seat in this movie. When Harold and Kumar pick him up hitchhiking, it is revealed that Harris took ecstasy and is, in his own words, “Tripping balls.” His cameo is legendary stuff, and I’d actually like to see a film where his side of the story—after he hijacks Harold’s car and solicits a few strippers—is told. As Freakshow, the dermatologically impaired tow-truck driver, Christopher Meloni (who humped refrigerators in Wet Hot American Summer) shows that he’s game for just about anything, including volcanic boils on his neck.
I suspect, after the film’s abysmal opening weekend, that it will take time for word to spread on this one. The movie sets itself up for a sequel where Harold and Kumar go to Amsterdam, so it’s very important that fans of the film get others to go and see it. If not, this one will be doomed to an afterlife of extreme popularity in home video, à la Strange Brew, and that sequel will never happen. (CPL, CS, ER, NM)